A radio commentator said of Australia recently that it was a great country with great people that, despite this, had somehow ended up with the dirtiest ratbag politicians in the world. I can’t help but feel the same way about Hamilton. It is, contrary to popular opinion, a fabulous place to live and work – yet the government’s major contributions to the city this electoral term appears to be a few extra kilometres of Expressway and several more kilometres of synthetic cannabis.
The negative effects of Central government’s one-sided cost-cutting ‘strategies’ beggars belief (pun not intended). My problem is not that they’ve been cutting costs, but that they seem to have spent an entire term increasing everybody else’s. Many years ago at the start of this merry adventure the Police Association warned that not increasing their budget adequately would mean they’d be unable to meet crime targets. Fast forward a few years and the crime situation in Hamilton East would seem to be evidence of the theory that cutting police resources has some sort of a correlation to crime rates. Then again, was it this, or the synthetic cannabis – far worse than actual cannabis and more comparable to crack-cocaine – that did it? Or was it the more stringent social welfare restrictions and market rentals on State Housing that, while being great for central government budgets, was not so great for the taxpayer facing increasingly aggressive beggars and homeless people in Hamilton’s CBD?
To say that our local electorate Members of Parliament were silent during all of this would be a mistake. They were in fact quite vocal when it came to the question of denying their own constituents the right to get married. Tim Macindoe even appeared to suggest the voice of God had reached out to him across the space of thousands of years to give him the immovable belief that he had to stamp his hetero-stick down and pull a Gandalf to prevent the Balrog of homosexuality from passing into his community.
Well, pass it did, despite the backbones of Hamilton’s two electorate MPs(actually, the backbone of David Bennett rapidly gave way on the third reading after it turned out that 72% of his spine was actually in favour of gay marriage). But this was it, their one stand against the opinion of their party’s leader.
And, contrary to the rhetoric on the other side of the aisle, I’m not even sure the ‘rich’ of Hamilton are benefiting. Those who are taxed at the highest rate are taxed at practically the same rates they were before (in some cases even higher if you take into account tax changes in relation to depreciation and so on) but seem to be receiving increasingly less for it. Besides, this budget crisis appears not to affect anything to do with Auckland. There seems to be no shortage of Central government money to build a pointless rail loop in Auckland’s CBD (presumably to combat all those rather rude carbon exhalations from people walking between K Rd and Britomart). The crime of the government then is not that it is taking from the poor to give to the rich – or that it is robbing the rich insufficiently – but that it is robbing everybody in Hamilton and claiming it as a national achievement.